Skip to main content

KNOXVILLE — More than 150 UT Knoxville students are spending this week working at Camp Koinonia, a weeklong residential outdoor education program for 120 East Tennessee children with disabilities.

The camp started Sunday and runs through Friday at the Clyde M. York 4-H Training Center in Crossville.

The UT students come from a variety of academic programs including therapeutic recreation, special education, child and family studies and psychology. Prior to staffing the camp, the UT students take a 14-week course to learn how to work with children with disabilities.

The campers come from special education programs and special schools in Anderson, Blount and Knox counties. All of them have multiple disabilities, including hearing and visual impairment, mental retardation, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal bifida and autism.

Camp Koinonia was developed in 1977 at Virginia Tech under the leadership and direction of Gene Hayes, now a UT professor of exercise, sport and leisure studies. The idea was to provide a meaningful, experiential learning opportunity for university students while involving children and young adults, some with severe disabilities, in outdoor activities that they would not be able to do otherwise.

In 1984, Hayes moved to UT Knoxville and brought Camp Koinonia with him. The name Koinonia comes from the Greek and means “fellowship” and “caring community.”

Some of the activities campers participate in include horseback riding, canoeing, nature crafts, sport and games, ropes course activities, music and movement, and cooking. Throughout the week there will be special events such as hay rides, an ice cream social and a dance — the students’ favorite activity.

C O N T A C T :

Jamil Price, (615-517-0332, — at the camp

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,